PwJ Team Member Spotlight

Finding My Light
Author: KC Wilkerson
I get a lot of questions about my current job so let’s start there. I’m the principal lighting designer for Disney Parks Live Entertainment at the Disneyland Resort. My role consists primarily of three parts:
  • I oversee the creative implementation of lighting and visual effects (including lasers, fountains, fire, and atmospherics) by providing leadership for my team. Together, we design, implement, and program creative visual elements for shows, parades, and projects in California and Hawaii.
  • I provide creative direction for our fireworks program, overseeing all of the creative elements for the seven different shows we perform.  
  • I design projects. If you’ve been to Disneyland in the last 10 years, you’ve seen my work or the work of my talented design team.
My theatre career didn’t start at Disneyland, though. It began with a passion for music, art, and architecture.
 
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock star (always a great career plan). My parents gave me an electric guitar for Christmas one year, and I tried to teach myself to play but I was undisciplined. I eventually abandoned it because I realized I didn’t have a passion for playing music – the passion was for listening to music, collecting records, and going to see concerts.
 
My second passion was art. I dove deep into art classes and as I learned more, my passion for art and artists grew and I found myself expressing things I couldn’t say in words. There was, however, the nagging realization that while I was deeply passionate about art I couldn’t see it as a career.
 
Then there was architecture. From an early age, I was always trying to figure out how things were built. In junior high I took drafting classes which taught me how to be intentional and precise. I took Shop which taught me how to build what I had drafted. However, I had significant struggles with math and without math, architecture would not be possible.
 
What I realized, years later, was the common bond between my passions involved the act of creating. Art, music, and architecture were the manifestation of my core desire: to be creative. I had no idea how what to do with that much less how to turn it into a career. Then, in high school, a friend of mine who knew my art background asked if I wanted to come to a “paint party” in the school auditorium to paint the set for their upcoming show. I showed up and almost immediately realized I loved the inclusive, creative environment. I hadn’t previously experienced that camaraderie, that shared sense of purpose. It wasn’t about the set, or the acting, or the lights; it was about all of us working together towards something bigger.
 
I can’t write something about my career path and not acknowledge two specific teachers who were instrumental in connecting me to my creativity.
 
In addition to introducing me to design principles, art teacher Martha Doyal pushed me. Her simple demand was “show up to the canvas”.  She forced me to challenge myself. She insisted that I not allow anyone to place limitations on me. Perhaps most importantly she inspired me to kill my excuses. Those are eternal lessons that I use nearly every day of my life.
 
As my first theatre director, Ken Dyess taught me the power of elevation. The idea that there is a bigger picture, that it was important to understand that picture, and the only way to see it all is to get out of the weeds. He gave me the opportunity to use my passions and skills by designing sets. He was the one that connected the dots and pointed me down the road to becoming a set designer.
 
The summer I graduated, I went to see The Police in concert. There, I saw moving lights (which were in their infancy) for the first time. It was magic as far as I was concerned and I fell hopelessly in love with light. In retrospect, it’s still surprising to me how one experience can crystallize everything and shoot lightning bolts deep into your core and fundamentally change your life. After that night, I no longer wanted to be a set designer.
 
So off to college I go, and since I was a scholarship recipient I was required to audition for all of the shows. Much to my dismay, I got cast. The more time I spent onstage, the more convinced I was that I wanted to be backstage. My college years were filled with design work, acting in shows, and being on stage crews.
 
After graduation, I bounced around the local theater scene in Houston (where I was living at the time) taking the typical odd jobs just to make ends meet. I had the opportunity to move to southern California with my family. I worked in many small theatres, and even though there were more gigs it was still tough to make a living. Then, on a whim, I applied for a summer job at Disneyland.
 
After a year or so, I was getting opportunities and enjoying the working environment. One of those opportunities was a series of promotional tours which allowed me to travel across the U.S. and Europe over a span of three years. In those short three years, I rose from being a tech to crew chief to technical director. While being on tour is exciting, it’s also exhausting so I decided to come back home and put down roots.
 
Returning back to the park, I began to seek out other opportunities. I said “yes” to everything, including an offer to be assistant technical director for a new Disneyland fireworks show. It was there that I fell in love with larger-than-life spectaculars. It was (and continues to be) great fun working at such a grand scale. That show was a huge hit and shortly afterward I was offered a job as one of Disneyland’s technical directors.
 
You’re thinking, “Wait, why are you a TD? Didn’t you want to be a designer?” The answer is yes, but one of the most important lessons I have ever learned is that the path isn’t straight. It includes curves and dips, each one of which contains opportunities. At the time, the company did not have design roles within the organization and being a TD was the closest I could get.
 
Once I was a TD, I realized I could do some of the design work myself. I began doing larger projects where I was fulfilling both the TD and the design role. That got the attention of my leadership and over the course of the next several years, my role evolved to include more design work. When the company restructured our organization about 10 years ago, they created new positions and I was moved into the lighting design role. I am now part of a larger group of designers (lighting, audio, video, show control) and technical directors.
 
I’ve also continued to work in theater, designing lighting and projection for a variety of shows (and picking up a slew of design awards), in addition to corporate work and museums. Along the way, I discovered that I love sharing what I’ve learned with students so I’ve participated in the California Thespian Festival and the International Thespian Festival; conducting workshops and mentoring design students. With Disney Performing Arts, I’ve developed a series of technical theatre workshops that allow students a peek behind the curtain to see how we create some of the magic they see in Disney parks. I’ve given keynote addresses to students and spoken with teachers around the country about the arts, creativity, and design. I love doing all of those things but nothing really eclipses the moments I can stand in front of a new rig and see it light up for the first time. After 38 years in this business, it’s the one thing that makes me feel like I’m in high-school again; and it never ceases to bring up a sense of wonder and give me the feeling of so many possibilities waiting to be realized.
About The Author

KC is an award-winning designer who leads the team that designs, implements, and programs entertainment lighting for The Disneyland Resort and Aulani. A professional member of the Association of Lighting Designers, he has been published in Live Design, Stage Directions and Teaching Theatre among others. He develops and presents technical workshops for Disney Performing Arts and is a speaker for high school and college tech students.

 

 

 

 

EDUCATOR TO EDUCATOR

Self-Care for Us, Theatre Educators

AUTHOR: GAI JONES

 Cliché Quotes That Should Be Retired:
“You have to look through the rain to see the rainbow.”
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”
 “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
“It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.”
 “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”What we need right now is not platitudes but manageable objectives that we can achieve in this time of creating new curriculum for distance and/or hybrid learning. And how to self-care, not only teaching my students how to take care for themselves during this challenging time but learning to care for myself. How about carving out time for me? How do I do that without adding more to my already challenging day?

The worst scenarios I have heard:

  • After my first day of teaching online, I went to bed at 7:30 pm. Then I had to get up at 11 pm to see which student checked in to get credit for the day. So schools can get their ADA.
  • Last night. The exhaustion is real. Not sure which is the most exhausting part; the mask for 7 hours in a row, the kids in class & on the screen at the same time needing two different teaching styles at the same time, dealing with technology issues, or just the normal back to school start. It’s. A. Lot. 
  • The unanswered questions and incomplete info are getting to me.
  • I was going at 100%, then it was a sudden – close my computer, turn off office lights, changed my clothes and went for a run. I guess my body told me what it needed… before totally crashing in bed!
  • I tried really hard to do my class expectations, but, well.. I feel like it’s best to mark everything “draft” that we distribute this year, that would make it feel more accurate – and like I’m getting somewhere!
  • I literally paused my video and put my head down in a zoom mtg. I couldn’t stop crying.
  • I had 2 screens set up and one fell and broke during a class. I was frozen with fear. I didn’t know how to solve it. I would have been able to handle it if we were in person and a kid did that. I would be able to help them. I could not help myself.
  • All I want to do is eat and sleep. Make this all go away.
 
Journey to Self-Care
The definition of self-care is any action that you use to improve your health and well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Illness (NAMI), there are six elements to self-care: (1) Physical, (2) Psychological, (3) Emotional, (4) Spiritual, (5) Social, and (6) Professional.Ideally, a healthy self-care strategy should include an activity that addresses each of these factors every day. That way, you can make sure that every element of your overall health and well-being is taken care of. Self-care activities can be small- to large-scale habits, with examples ranging from packing a healthy lunch to waking up early every day to do a short mediation before work. When left unchecked, teacher stress can lead to burnout and contribute to the high turnover rate in education. But self-care can turn this around and help keep teachers from getting burned out.

I applaud you; I honor and respect you for doing what you do. My license plate says APLS4U; the holder says “Every Day You Deserve a Round of Applause.” I often see people in my rear-view mirror applauding. It is a bit concerning to see no hands on steering wheel, so I applaud them back and steer clear. Try starting your day by giving yourself applause. Look in a mirror and applaud. Blow kisses, thank everyone who ever encouraged you. Give the Tony Award speech of your life. Each day, accept a virtual award for just being you.

About The Author

Gai Jones is the President of the national Educational Theatre Association Governing Board which sets policy for the professional members and students of Theatre; Thespians; California Youth in Theatre Founder; has a theater named after her at El Dorado High School. She writes Theatre Education books, directs, produces educational Theatre productions, and is a SAG/AFTRA commercial actress.

 

 

 

 

 

 



FEBRUARY 2021 NEWSLETTER

A MESSAGE FROM JASON

I will never forget watching the 2004 Tony Awards as Ms. Phylicia Rashad accepted her Tony Award for her brilliant performance in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. With this win Ms. Rashad became the first African American Actress to win a Tony for Best Actress in a Play. This was 2004!?!?! Her words were simple but spoke volumes to a larger picture and met the moment of a female African American Actress in the American Theatre finally being recognized. In high school the month of February was dedicated to the celebration and study of Black Theatre History. I was introduced to the works of August Wilson, Langston Hughes, and James Baldwin to name a few. I was obsessed with The Piano Lesson. Years later I was given the chance to work with George C. Wolfe, Savion Glover, Audra McDonald, and Billy Porter in New York City on a new musical, Shuffle Along. With each experience I grew as an artist and, unbeknownst to me, also grew as a human. I am happy to celebrate Black History Month with the amazing articles in this newsletter, contributed by very talented artists who were gracious enough to share their voices with us.

A big thank you to PwJ friend Scot Reese for his insight and connections and Vanessa Martinez for cultivating this amazing group of authors.

I ask us all to continue to listen, learn, and grow. The arts are always the voice of change and we can make that change happen together.

Also, the rumors are true, and I do indeed turn 40 this week! I have to thank all of you for being on this crazy journey that is life with me! I am humbled to still be collaborating with so many gifted people and to have met so many incredible educators and students over the many years of doing this. Big thanks from me for your continued support of educational theatre and creating these one-of-a-kind opportunities. To the PwJ Team you have my love and respect for all you do.

Until next time,

Jason

Watch Phylicia Rashad’s Acceptance Speech

 



 

IS THE EQUITY AND INCLUSION IN THEATRE YOU ARE TEACHING NATURAL AND NECESSARY?

 

Author: Goldie Patrick

When I was 19 years old and a wide-eyed and radical acting and playwriting major at Howard University, a professor introduced me to a play that would dramatically change the trajectory of my career ambitions in theatre and challenge what I believed about the 11 years of theatre I learned in schools. We were in playwriting class. I excitedly presented my idea of writing a play about hip hop where the characters would rap and DJ on stage. I was connived this was revolutionary. I was right. But, I was also late to the idea. Instead, my professor, Sybil Roberts gently let me know that it had already been done before and by persons not that much older than me. I was elated and stunned.

Why hadn’t I heard of this hip hop theatre before now? How do I get more of it? Where can I find it? The answer was simple. It was being made in real-time around me and that meant I had the opportunity to grow and learn with and inside this budding genre of theatre. I sought out the founders and pioneers of hip hop theatre and sat at their feet as they built and developed this amazing genre. This genre of Hip Hop theatre is what my artistic life has largely been dedicated to since that one playwriting class. I’ve since been a professor of hip hop history and culture, sat on countless panels and workshops, worked in the nonprofit world around funding it, and I’ve written and produced several hip hop theatre plays. But, perhaps most importantly, I have worked with young people helping them learn and develop hip hop theatre of their own.

Now imagine what would’ve happened if instead when I announced my idea, my professor insisted that I try to model my work to be more like August Wilson (with whom I’d studied most of my life). or even worse, steered me in the direction of adopting more classical templates and works like Ibsen, Williams, or Shakespeare, so that I can have a “successful” career in playwriting.

Why am I telling you this story? Because as a teacher, mentor, or professor you have the opportunity to grow the possibilities of your students and their love and voice in theatre. You can do it by resisting the urge to prescribe the antiquated ideas of assimilation that have plagued most drama programs at every level across educational institutions in this country. White American theatre is not the normal, goal or blueprint that all theatre shall be made from. That idea is the basis for too many of the stolen dreams and creativity of BIPOC students in theatre. Now, this is the part where you read the rest of this article with your students out loud.

Theatre is yours (students). It is not for the elite and meant to be easily digestible. Quite the contrary. It is supposed to be delicious and irresistible but, at its very best, theatre is the most uncomfortable healing space one can imagine. The question is who is supposed to be uncomfortable? The answer is radical but my sincere belief. The forces of power whether delusional, stolen, or oppressive powers should be constantly uncomfortable in theatre. The rigid ideas of how to write a play, how to behave in a theatre, and what is deemed valuable or classical work must be interrogated at every level until the heavy hand of white supremacy is vetted and edited out. Then we can all find ourselves and our voices in theatre.

I would even boldly suggest that as educators our greatest job is not to teach or prescribe, but rather to learn; from your students. Studies have shown that younger generations are living with more inclinations towards inclusivity and cultural competence and compassion. So, now we have the chance to put the next generation in head of the evolution of theatre to create the most innovative art imagined. Your duty is actually to believe in the power and genius of your students enough to never inhibit their journey. What does that look like in practice? I have some suggestions. They all bloom from the foundation that it’s time to create anew.

Lean into discomfort
Start but don’t center your realities. If you are white…you must say “I am white”. If you are CIS, you have to say, “I am CIS”. The list continues but in this way. This creates the space for the student who has been shamed for being “other” to find power in owning their identity. Once you say this, move out the way. Age and education don’t alway equal cultural understanding and knowledge, so if you don’t know, ask for suggestions on learning. And even if you learn more, be careful to not assume the role of expert from your research.

Modeling the, “We see you white American theatre” how can teachers move past their own inherent racial biases to leverage discomfort as the impetus for creation for the next generation of theatre-makers in February.

Learn yourself
Ask your students to candidly suggest “what they feel you need to know?” Ask your student to honestly express “what they believe they as students need to know?” Ask your students to define “what success means for them”, “what makes a play worth their time” and what stories and characters they know in their lives but have yet to see on stage. Once you get these answers search the vast cannon of Black theatre to find these plays. Remember Blackness is global.

Go beyond August Wilson, Hansberry, Nottage. These icons have a rich and valuable lineage that is recent and poignant. Remember racism is systemic in America so if you don’t know the playwrights that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. That means you haven’t found the source to find them. Think outside of traditional playwriting as inspiration and pick fruit from music, and blogs, and film and other Black creatives that are storytellers. Theatre is evolutionary so find new voices and inclusive voices.

Use politics as a premise
Have students contribute prompts for making new work based on the socio-political realities of their own lives. The Black Arts Movement is a great example of how politics of the Black community shape and inform the content of the theatre created.

Inclusivity is beyond showing up – it includes equity
No one story is more important than the other. So, make a home for devising in your teaching. Move beyond the culture of teaching that was used to teach compliance and order and instead see what your students create under the culture of liberation. There are several forms of devised, protest theatre, and guerrilla and ritual theatre aesthetics that are great blueprints for this. Encourage your students to create collectively and let it be messy and weird and unconventional.

History is a mixture of studying and radical imagination
Ask your students to imagine what this moment they are present in looks like when its discussed 20 years from now, 30, 40, and 50.

Don’t be whack!
Trust the judgment of your students. If they don’t like something don’t dismiss it easily, ask the difficult questions of why? This also helps them develop constructive analysis and critique for their work and their peer’s work. Create opportunities to develop articulation around aesthetics that they find engaging and interesting and culturally relevant. Theatre is historically uninviting and disenfranchising for Black, Indigenous and Persons Of Color, so honor and work to understand any positions or resistance around engaging in traditional theatre.

My genuine hope is that every student experiences a Professor Roberts. A teacher who listens and believes in them and their idea enough to lead them to the revolution happening around them. Professor Roberts is still in my life. She is a close friend, commrade and I have had the honor to produce several of her plays in my theatre company for Black women and girls. But, Professor Robert’s was able to have that impact on me because she lived and learned the very ideas of innovation, intersectionality, and revolution she was teaching. I encourage you all to do the same. As we live more in our own individual practices of inclusion, equity and social and racial justice, teaching it in theatre is both very natural and necessary. Onward.



 

 

BAD TEACHER

Author: LeVonne Lindsay

“After I received word of my promotion to full professor this past June — a day after my 39th birthday — I decided to text my friends rather than post the news on Twitter. One of them asked how I was celebrating. I told her that I wasn’t yet. Instead, I was making a list of all the people who had tried to destroy my career.” –​Marlene Laut,​ ​Becoming Full Professor While Black​.

Professor Laut’s opening paragraph from her article in The Chronicle of Higher Education hit like a direct punch to the gut. Her experience was a painful reminder of my tenure process at a primarily white institution in Central Virginia. Unfortunately, there was no moment of triumph at the end of my story.

I will admit, I was ambivalent about becoming a full-time academic in the mountains of Virginia, but I was desperate to get back to Washington DC after spending five years teaching in rural Georgia. I thought a two-hour commute might just be close enough. I couldn’t shake the feeling the job was setting me up for failure. I was the only woman of color in the theater department, and the only faculty member asked to teach classes outside of their expertise. I was a costume designer with a background in fashion teaching Intro to Theater to non-majors. One of my design courses required an entire section on both scenic and lighting design. Unsurprisingly, I was not an exceptional lecturer on subjects I had cursory knowledge about. However, it was clear that some of my students held highly racialized perceptions of my intelligence. My student evaluations were abysmal. I was labeled as a “bad teacher” for talking about the history of racist practices on Broadway, Black theater, or even deducting points on papers for poor spelling or grammatical errors.

My tenured colleagues offered little support. One professor who came to observe my class claimed I had no control over my classroom just because I chose not to close the door. In production, he accused me of failing to meet non-existent deadlines. When I pushed back on feedback that I could prove was unfair, biased, or demonstrably false, I was reprimanded for being uncooperative. A committee member blatantly confessed she would not have been granted tenure if held to the same criteria and invited me to dinner at her home. ​Yet she signed the letter assessing all my contributions as unsatisfactory just the same. ​I was working under the good faith that my peers would evaluate me on the merits of my work and as a new instructor almost entirely out of her element. I had been wildly naive.

The process of applying for tenure at that institution nearly broke me, so I resigned. It made me question everything I knew about myself and the measures of success. Until that moment, I was fundamentally unfamiliar with the concept of failure. I graduated high school at the top of my class, went to college on a full academic scholarship, and then five years later, my graduate application to the University of Maryland, my top choice, was accepted immediately. After that, I won a distinguished fellowship at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and was awarded for showing exceptional promise and leadership in my field. Despite all of my accomplishments, I currently work in a staff position with a base pay of $40,788 in Philadelphia, the country’s 6th largest metropolitan area. In a good year, with additional adjunct teaching and freelance work, I might clear just over $55,000. I take full responsibility for the choices I made based on the knowledge, resources, and opportunities available to me at the time. When I see tenure-track positions open in red areas across the country, I don’t regret how my situation played out for a moment. What I am saying is that I have been some places, I have seen some things, and I know this much is true:

If you are a Black student in a theater department with no full-time or tenured black professors, you are bound to run into some problems. If your administrators hire but cannot retain BIPOC full-time professors, it is most likely because they are not making adequate space for them to succeed in your department. They may be allowing saboteurs to derail their success or putting them in situations where they are almost certain to fail. If they refuse to acknowledge the unique challenges facing you as students at primarily white institutions and cannot provide the support they need, remain steadfast in believing that hiring more BIPOC teachers will alleviate that problem.

It is undeniable there are fewer BIPOC in theater design and technology who are also pursuing careers in academia. We are also apprehensive about relocating to unwelcoming or unsafe areas where many of these jobs are located. Your administrators will translate this predicament into the belief they cannot find qualified candidates. Often they are holding them to higher standards than white professors with equal or inferior credentials. If you ask for better representation, do not allow them to offer you this excuse without demanding greater transparency about their hiring and recruiting practices. I served on numerous search committees and diversity councils when I was an assistant professor. When you check off two boxes for them as a woman and an ethnic minority, that is what you get assigned to do. I have seen people hired by manipulating recommendations in favor of our preferences. I have served on a committee that preferred a guest artist with Asian heritage and an Ivy League education over an equally qualified Latin-American candidate to direct a Lorca play. I have witnessed white faculty begrudgingly accept promotions delivered by organizational shifts in the department with no job search conducted whatsoever. What I have never seen is I have never in my life seen a BIPOC candidate in a tenure-track position who got there with a questionable resume.

The reality is that most BIPOC in academia are required to be ​more​ accomplished than the average white candidate just to get their foot in the door. We have all been told to be practitioners of the “twice as good” philosophy. ​Black men and women account for less than 5 percent of all full-time faculty members at colleges and universities in the United States​. Yet, we continue to see a great deal of hand-wringing over the possibility that somebody may hire a less qualified Black candidate over a white one. The decades of mediocrity created by departments where the vast majority of the faculty is white rarely comes into question. White administrators repeatedly ask BIPOC candidates to meet on an equal playing field while turning a blind eye to all of the hurdles placed in their path. None of us want to be hired based solely on the color of our skin. We are only asking for the much-needed perspective an all-white faculty cannot provide, including the implicit bias ingrained in their hiring and promotion practices.

Despite what you may see, the BIPOC adjuncts, guest artists, and staff members who make their way to your campus do not want to be paraded around as proof of your department’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. They are not there to photograph so that your school’s promotional or recruiting materials can give a false impression of their workforce’s racial composition. It is appalling for others to take credit for our visible presence while subjugating us to minor, temporary, powerless roles. Hiring POC as guest artists, lecturers, designers, and directors to work on your designated productions featuring marginalized people’s struggle is quite frankly ​the very least​ that they can do. Universities that are genuinely committed to their Diversity and Inclusion statements must start investing their money and efforts into engendering real and immediate structural change. Until that happens, all that they are offering is lip service. Until we begin to see progress, BIPOC students, staff, and faculty alike have the right to call them out on their fraud.

I don’t know how my story ends or what big news I’ll have to post on Twitter one day. I could have let my situation break me, but I picked up my pieces and persevered instead. ​Continuing my professional and artistic development is instrumental in forging the way for others to follow. As a Black woman, educator, and designer, it is my responsibility to pave the way for others to break down the barriers that stood in my way. My constant objective is to inspire those who feel unseen or undervalued in the theater industry. I want students to use their creative skills not only as a means for careers as successful theatre artists but also as tools that can ultimately change the world. The revitalization of the theater arts weighs upon our shoulders. We stand at the precipice of an era that could induce sweeping, radical changes in our power structures. It is time to take that final leap.

 



 

CREATING DURING THE PANDEMIC

A Recipe for Art & Devising with the
Local Community

Author: Anastasia Wilson

COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on the arts. Many artists found themselves without work, without an artistic home to frequent, without human contact, and without an outlet to share. Citizens found themselves adapting quickly and frequently to an ever changing climate with no sign of a conclusion to the shifts. Modes of relaxation and community were largely unavailable to people. The world seemed as if the flames of isolation were smoldering. Underneath all of the ash of 2020, citizens still had a need for community, and artists found themselves with an ember that would not extinguish and that is the impulse to create and feel alive, no matter what. My long time devising colleague Rachel Hynes and I knew there was an opportunity here.

Rachel and I have both created, devised, performed and trained all over the globe, and we were eager to get back in touch with our devising roots and explore what was evolving into the new age of theatrical experiences. We formed Joy & Pang Productions and got to work. We sought a virtual performance that embodied the visceral, energetic, and multi sensory experience of seeing a play and being in the space with others. We then devised Love Story: A Meal in Five Courses.

Love Story: A Meal in five courses was our ​opportunity to connect to people during the quarantine. The Covid-safe, online performance, invites the audience to collaboratively tell a multi-sensory love story through a fine dining experience. We had a test run as part of the Interface Lab in the summer of 2020. We sold out in 14 days. We extended. We sold out again within 48 hours. Because our performance was virtual, we connected with people all over the globe. One thing was clear, people were longing for the live experience and for connection. We had uncovered a way to augment the live theatrical experience and still make it every bit as palpable to the audience. Not only that, the audience became a crucial performer during this virtual experience. Based on its initial successful run, we decided that Love Story: A Meal in Five Courses needed another run. We decided to enhance the production and find a way to involve the community in more unique ways. D​evised theatre typically involves the performers and designers creating a piece from nothing but an idea or impulse. No script. No text. Nothing but an idea. Often the designers and artists are in the room creating together, from day one. Our enhanced “couture theatre” experience, Love Story: A Meal in Five Courses does just that.

Rachel and I asked ourselves, how do we reconnect people with not only themselves, but their community? The next iteration of the show (opening March 2021) will now involve a collaboration with the business community. We seek a partner restaurant to whom we will drive business. The goal is that they will supply a curated box to all audience members that will be delivered to their doorstep just before the performance and incorporated into their interactive sensory experience. Devising requires the designers and performers to be creating together. Being able to make the community a part of the artistic process and performance is another way to continue to expand upon not only what devised theatre can do, but also redesign how it can connect people. The new stage is digital but every bit as connected and immersive as live theatre.

Love Story: A Meal in Five Courses brings the theatre to the comfort of your home and shines a gentle and inviting spotlight on the audience. Involving local restaurants allows people to connect with neighborhood vendors. It also supports another industry that saw devastating effects from the pandemic. Through art and this unique piece, people are able to share, support one another, and give back to their community. This is the expansive power of the arts. There is magic in developing a production for stage and film, but when a production is created through devising, it is alchemy.

Find out more about Love Story: A meal and Five Courses by following Joy & Pang Productions on Instagram @Joyandpangproductions. Learn more about Rachel Hynes, Anastasia Wilson, and ticket information.



 

A VOICE TO THE VOICELESS

Author: Joshua R. Lamont

There are a million reasons to pursue a career in the arts. Many of those reasons often deal with what “I” can get out of it. Fame. Fortune. Meeting cool people. Being seen…. Ahh there it is. Being seen. A lot of the reasons why I first started acting was because I wanted to be seen. I wanted people to see me. See my talent. See my work ethic. See that I’m valuable. The theater has and continues to provide that for me. But there was another thing that working in the theater provided. It allowed me to see the community I serve.

While studying at the University of Maryland, College Park, I had a professor tell me that as actors, we give voice to the voiceless. I never understood what she meant until I started producing my own work. In 2011, I collaborated with Company of Angels on the piece FATIGUED. FATIGUED looked at the repercussions the Iraq/Afghanistan war has had on American soldiers, their families, and the communities they lived in. The piece targeted military veterans and included several talkbacks with service men and women. During one particular talkback, a young man dressed in all black with hair covering his face rose his hand to speak. He was soft-spoken but intense. He said that this was his first outing with his friends and that he could finally tell them about what happened when he was overseas. He had been deployed but never really returned. He couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about his experiences because it was too much, but after seeing our play, he wanted to talk.

In 2016, I helped to produce the Los Angeles production of #Every28Hours. The production was a part of a nationwide initiative that was spearheaded by the One-Minute Play Festival, The Ferguson Movement, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. #Every28Hours had 72 one-minute plays and included more than 60 artists from Los Angeles. #Every28Hours looked at the statistic that every 28 hours, a black man, woman or child is killed by someone employed by the US government. This production was first presented in Watts, California and then moved to California State University Dominguez Hills. It was here that I heard countless stories on the pain and frustration that comes with the devaluation of black life. Today, I am the Development Manager of The Actors’ Gang, a nonprofit theater organization in Culver City. While my accomplishments there have been plenty – touring in the United States and to Italy, performing for over 2,000 guests, premiering new work, raising loads of money, I am most proud of my work as a teaching artist in K-12, continuation high schools, inside California state prisons, reentry facilities, and juvenile camps. This work is most fulfilling because I get to watch our students unlock their emotions, share their authentic voices, and see their fellow players in a new light. I can’t tell you how many incarcerated people have told me, “If I had just had this class growing up, I don’t think I would be here now.”

As Black History Month continues, I know I stand on the backs of giants. People who fought and died for my freedom as a black man, as a creative. Believe it or not, they fought and died for ALL of our freedoms. I believe as artists we have the power to speak for those who cannot. We have the power to see solutions where there were none. We have the choice to open our hearts so others can open theirs. And I sincerely hope that gives you purpose and meaning beyond the stage lights and audience applause.

*In California, there are over 174,880 men, women, and children currently impacted by the justice system (CDCR Spring Projections 2020). Many of these individuals are people of color and come from communities that have been under resourced, devalued, and divested.



 



 

IN THE GREENROOM WITH…



What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
I would have to say playing Anna. Liesl Tommy and the Disney family decided to break all the rules and cast a rainbow of colors in that original cast of Frozen. It was life changing. I got so many messages from young girls and their mothers telling me that they were insired to see me on stage representing them in such a great way. So many conversations with college kids and speaking with them about their goals and their futures.

What’s the most inspiring thing anyone has ever said to you?
“It’s going to be hard. It’s not suppose to be easy when you are doing what you’re doing. But you were born for this. So never stop.”

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the theatre arts?
I’ve always wanted to sing. I’ve always loved it. I found theatre arts in Middle School when I first listened to the musical “RENT”. I was blown away. I wanted to play MIMI so bad at 14. My mother was terrified. But that show opened up my eyes to Broadway.

What’s your favorite self-care activity?
Taking an Epsom Salt Bath with my Essential oils.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
Watching “Married at First Sight”

What is one thing that can instantly brighten your day?
Watching cat videos on YouTube

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Chocolate Malted Krunch from Thrifty Ice Cream

Current obsession?
The Crown

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who ask for help without doing anything to help themselves.

What is your dream role/job?
Ariel in The Little Mermaid on Broadway

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I sold computer print supplies

What career advice would you give your younger self?
Two ways actually. When Oprah knows my name or When i can switch all my bills to “auto-pay”.

Tell us one thing that’s on your bucket list.
Family Meals

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
The scariest thing I ever did was move to New York. I wanted to take the chance to see if I liked it. I didn’t really know anyone. It was a rough 7 months but then i got a job back in California and moved back. I realized just how much of a California girl I am. I love New York and I had to actually live there to try it out.

If you were a super hero, what would your power be?
If I were superhero, I would probably have some water/air bending skills. I love the ocean and I love the wind. I would be able to manipulate those two things.

You’re looking for a midnight snack… what are you reaching for? Or ordering?
Chocolate Frosting… its always frosting. hehehe

 

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Getting Fit For The New Year

Author: Kristen Sutton-Traina DPT, MS, OCS, ATC

Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist

As we enter into the New Year, we may be looking for ways to make healthy lifestyle changes. First, we need to ask ourselves what does it mean to be “healthy.” There are a number of factors that contribute to being healthy, and the importance of each factor may differ for each person. Both physical and mental health must be considered when evaluating our overall well-being. Our mental health involves how we cope with stress and how we manage our emotions. Nutrition, exercise and recovery must all be taken into account when considering physical health. The food we consume assists in fueling our bodies to provide nourishment and energy. Movement and exercise throughout the day strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular health.  Finally, recovery, especially sleep, allows our body time to heal and prepare for the next day’s challenges. As a physical therapist and athletic trainer, I specialize in movement and exercise. Although this is only one piece of the big picture, it is important, especially for performing artists. Exercising regularly, and in a healthy manner, helps prevent injuries, enhance performance, increase energy levels and even improve mental health. 

As a performer, movement is an essential part of life. However, exercise is different from movement. It is important for performers, dancers included, to cross train in order to maintain a healthy body. Cross training encourages the use of different muscles, which will promote overall stability and strength. There are four main types of exercise: cardiovascular (aerobic and anerobic), muscular endurance, muscular strength and power. Cardiovascular exercise can be divided into aerobic and anerobic training. Aerobic exercise, which is typically known as “cardio”, is anything that can be sustained for > 20 minutes and requires at least moderate exertion; this may include walking, steady running or biking. Anerobic exercise involves shorter bouts of more vigorous activities, resulting in a higher heart rate for shorter periods of time with longer recovery intervals and includes exercises like sprinting. Muscular endurance is a type of strength training, which includes resistance bands, weights or body weight, but is performed with higher repetitions and shorter rest periods. Muscular strengthening is performed with heavier weights, fewer repetitions and longer rest intervals.  Finally, exercises which train for power involve explosive type movements, such as plyometrics. To maximize the benefits, power driven exercises are performed with fewer repetitions, greater intensity and longer rest intervals. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) publishes guidelines to help inform the public on recommendations for exercise. (see images) Based on the ACSM guidelines, muscular endurance or muscular strengthening exercises should be performed 2-3 days per week and cardiovascular training should be performed 3-5 days per week depending on the intensity of the workout. 

Pilates is a form of exercise that has become very popular among performing artists. Pilates typically combines muscular endurance training with flexibility while integrating the concept of core stability. Depending on the equipment available, individuals may use a jump board to integrate low impact power training as well. Pilates is performed lying down or seated using springs as a form of resistance. Performers enjoy the low impact nature of Pilates, and the focus on proper form in combination with core stability. Pilates is a great form of exercise and can be performed using equipment in studios or at home on a mat. To maximize the benefit of this type of training, it is important to progress slowly through each exercise and do not attempt movements that are too advanced.  

Although Pilates is effective, it is only one type of exercise. Other forms of exercise should be incorporated into weekly workout routines to promotes overall strength and body awareness. Exercise videos and programs may be found in Applications or online, especially on YouTube. Circuit training is one great way to combine muscular endurance and aerobic exercise. A circuit may consist of performing any exercise you choose, for example, choose 4-6 of your favorite exercises (example: 15 squats, 8 push-ups, 8 lunges and 10 mountain climbers); then repeat the same exercises 2-4 times with minimal rest between sets to promote cardiovascular endurance. When focusing on muscular strength simply perform exercises using weights to increase the difficulty and perform fewer repetitions. Make sure to integrate adequate rest in between sets while performing muscular strengthening. Circuit training can also involve plyometric training to promote improvements in power. Circuits can focus on leg, arms, core or a combination of different body regions. Alternate days of focusing on muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular training for a healthy balance. 

Walk-run programs may be used for cardiovascular training. If running is a new activity make sure to start running using a walk-run program. Start by walking for 5 minutes, running for 30 seconds, then repeat for a total workout time of 20-30 minutes. Try to increase the time spent running as your fitness level improves.      

There are countless options of different exercise programs, especially with the use of the internet. The keys to a good exercise program:

  • MAKE IT FUN. Whether you add music or video chat with a friend, make workouts enjoyable.
  • When performing a new exercise, make sure to perform the exercise correctly. Exercises are only beneficial if performed with proper form.  
  • Start simple and progress to more challenging exercises. 
  • Almost every exercise should be a core exercise. Make an effort to actively engage core muscles.  
  • Stop before complete fatigue and only exercise until “form fatigue”. (Form fatigue is when the body begins to deviate from proper alignment and exercise technique due to muscular fatigue with exercise.)
  • Always use supportive foot wear and proper flooring to prevent injury.  

Remember, exercise is only one component of a healthy lifestyle; nutrition, recovery and mental health must also be considered. As you begin a fresh start in 2021, create long- and short-term goals to set more reasonable expectations and ensure success for a healthy and happy New Year.  

 

About The Author

Kristen Sutton-Traina, DPT, MS, OCS, ATC is an Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist specializing in performing artists medicine since 2006. Her research interest is in the area of dance medicine; specifically, she has been studying the effects on long bone morphology on lower extremity range of motion and function; and recently took part in data collection investigating conservative treatment for FHL tendinopathy.  She completed her Residency and Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California. Kristen completed her Master of Science in Kinesiology and Athletic Training at Michigan State University. She began her academic career at the University of Florida where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Human Health and Performance and Athletic Training.  Kristen worked with professional dancers in Orange County and Los Angeles assisting with preventing injuries through screening, therapeutic exercises and manual therapy.

 

 

 

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN
TO BE AN ACTOR CEO?

Author: Michael Moreno 

Creator and host – Actor CEO Podcast 

It’s a truly special thing to be in training as an actor. Whether you’re in a high school program, college or beyond, that growth and incubation period is important for developing your craft. 

But then you graduate…and immediately become a business. That’s right, you become a creative entrepreneur, the CEO of YOU – THE ACTOR, and your success over the years is based very much on you operating from that perspective. You are in charge of the marketing, pitching, relationship building, improvement and direction of your business from day one! And it’s hard to get that education in school. 

This education is where The Actor CEO Podcast comes in. With over 150 episodes with industry pros reaching 14K followers around the world, the podcast and ActorCEO.com are focused on helping actors treat their career like a business. It’s what has kept us rated as a Top Podcast for Actors by both Backstage and Casting Networks and has allowed me, Mike Moreno, to host the show, write articles for Backstage and Stage Milk, coach actors and bring these teachings to schools and programs around the country. 

One program I teach (now virtually) to college and university acting classes is called Actor to Actor CEO: 5 Keys to Building Your Acting Business. The 5 keys I think every actor must master to create a sustainable creative life (even in a pandemic) are:

  1. Know what you’re great at right now.

  2. Find your audience.

  3. Never be afraid to pitch yourself.

  4. Master your messaging.

  5. Build relationships.

I’ll dive into two of these keys, Know what you’re great at right now and Never be afraid to pitch yourself, in detail here. If you want more details and discussion on these 5 keys please feel free to reach out so we can share this program with your school or actor training program.

Know what you’re great at right now: Don’t be that actor who says “I can do everything.” It’s bad for business. It may be true, but you should find what one or two things you can do best right now and focus on them to build some momentum and foundational relationships with the people you want to work with.  The 80/20 rule works well here. Most likely, when you really think about all the roles you’ve been cast in or found that they came easy to you, there are probably about 20% of your roles that lead to 80% of your bookings, castings, rave reviews, and best results. That’s a profitable ratio and it makes things easier for you. You’re not wasting your time stressing over an audition, job, training, or trend that falls outside that 20% of roles that you can NAIL 80% of the time. You literally stop engaging, looking at or submitting for that work. It’s outside of your focus. You instead spend a year or two focusing and improving that 20% gold mine.

Never be afraid to pitch yourself: Knowing exactly who you are, what you do, and having a succinct way of telling someone can open incredible opportunities. What is your elevator pitch? How can you answer the question of, “So what do you do?” with “I’m a (sarcastic best friend with biting wit and a heart of gold) who (stands her ground and always brings her best).  You can see how that immediately allows someone to know who you are and what you do best. Now they know how you can help them in the future and it took you six seconds to make that impact. 

Quick story – Elizabeth Maxwell is an actor I had on the podcast, and she started out as an actor in LA then moved to Austin and things were moving slowly, she felt, in her acting career. She started to get interested in voice over, made her own VO demo in her closet from scratch by researching the VO demos of other working actresses and recording stuff she thought worked for her, THEN she also went to animation conventions to meet the people who were creating the work she wanted to be a part of. She did meet some people, got connected, got some contact info to follow up and she did. FOR MONTHS. “Professional persistence.” And one of those contacts finally had the time and space to get her in on an audition for an upcoming project that she booked and that started her journey into the world of voice over which she has been doing consistently for the last 10 years, because she pitched what she did best – non stop.

No matter what happens in our industry (recession, pandemic, changing trends) the fundamental fact that YOU are the chief creative decision maker and do not have to wait for permission, acceptance or validation from another to push your career forward will remain true. In fact, with more content out there than ever before and more platforms making it accessible directly to the audiences who want to see it, there is less preventing you from reaching those goals than in our entire artistic history.  

So empower yourself to own your space, your voice and take action every day that builds your business and pushes your dreams forward. 

About The Author

Michael runs The Actor CEO Podcast + ActorCEO.com (a Top Rated Podcast for Actors by both Backstage and Casting Networks), connecting thousands of actors around the globe to industry pros, tools, and resources to help them treat their career like a business filling the gap between training and building a sustainable creative life. Michael empowers modern artists by contributing content to multiple online outlets, teaching industry business and marketing classes in drama schools around the country and coaches creative professionals.

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN
TO BE AN ACTOR CEO?

AUTHORED BY MICHAEL MORENO, HOST OF THE ACTOR CEO PODCAST

It’s a truly special thing to be in training as an actor. Whether you’re in a high school program, college or beyond, that growth and incubation period is important for developing your craft. 

But then you graduate…and immediately become a business. That’s right, you become a creative entrepreneur, the CEO of YOU – THE ACTOR, and your success over the years is based very much on you operating from that perspective. You are in charge of the marketing, pitching, relationship building, improvement and direction of your business from day one! And it’s hard to get that education in school. 

This education is where The Actor CEO Podcast comes in. With over 150 episodes with industry pros reaching 14K followers around the world, the podcast and ActorCEO.com are focused on helping actors treat their career like a business. It’s what has kept us rated as a Top Podcast for Actors by both Backstage and Casting Networks and has allowed me, Mike Moreno, to host the show, write articles for Backstage and Stage Milk, coach actors and bring these teachings to schools and programs around the country. 

One program I teach (now virtually) to college and university acting classes is called Actor to Actor CEO: 5 Keys to Building Your Acting Business. The 5 keys I think every actor must master to create a sustainable creative life (even in a pandemic) are:

  1. Know what you’re great at right now.

  2. Find your audience.

  3. Never be afraid to pitch yourself.

  4. Master your messaging.

  5. Build relationships.

I’ll dive into two of these keys, Know what you’re great at right now and Never be afraid to pitch yourself, in detail here. If you want more details and discussion on these 5 keys please feel free to reach out so we can share this program with your school or actor training program.

Know what you’re great at right now: Don’t be that actor who says “I can do everything.” It’s bad for business. It may be true, but you should find what one or two things you can do best right now and focus on them to build some momentum and foundational relationships with the people you want to work with.  The 80/20 rule works well here. Most likely, when you really think about all the roles you’ve been cast in or found that they came easy to you, there are probably about 20% of your roles that lead to 80% of your bookings, castings, rave reviews, and best results. That’s a profitable ratio and it makes things easier for you. You’re not wasting your time stressing over an audition, job, training, or trend that falls outside that 20% of roles that you can NAIL 80% of the time. You literally stop engaging, looking at or submitting for that work. It’s outside of your focus. You instead spend a year or two focusing and improving that 20% gold mine.

Never be afraid to pitch yourself: Knowing exactly who you are, what you do, and having a succinct way of telling someone can open incredible opportunities. What is your elevator pitch? How can you answer the question of, “So what do you do?” with “I’m a (sarcastic best friend with biting wit and a heart of gold) who (stands her ground and always brings her best).  You can see how that immediately allows someone to know who you are and what you do best. Now they know how you can help them in the future and it took you six seconds to make that impact. 

Quick story – Elizabeth Maxwell is an actor I had on the podcast, and she started out as an actor in LA then moved to Austin and things were moving slowly, she felt, in her acting career. She started to get interested in voice over, made her own VO demo in her closet from scratch by researching the VO demos of other working actresses and recording stuff she thought worked for her, THEN she also went to animation conventions to meet the people who were creating the work she wanted to be a part of. She did meet some people, got connected, got some contact info to follow up and she did. FOR MONTHS. “Professional persistence.” And one of those contacts finally had the time and space to get her in on an audition for an upcoming project that she booked and that started her journey into the world of voice over which she has been doing consistently for the last 10 years, because she pitched what she did best – non stop.

No matter what happens in our industry (recession, pandemic, changing trends) the fundamental fact that YOU are the chief creative decision maker and do not have to wait for permission, acceptance or validation from another to push your career forward will remain true. In fact, with more content out there than ever before and more platforms making it accessible directly to the audiences who want to see it, there is less preventing you from reaching those goals than in our entire artistic history.  

So empower yourself to own your space, your voice and take action every day that builds your business and pushes your dreams forward. 

 

MICHAEL MORENO
Creator and Host – Actor CEO Podcast

 

Michael runs The Actor CEO Podcast and ActorCEO.com (a Top Rated Podcast for Actors by both Backstage and Casting Networks), connecting thousands of actors around the globe to industry pros, tools, and resources to help them treat their career like a business filling the gap between training and building a sustainable creative life. Michael empowers modern artists by contributing content to multiple online outlets, teaching industry business and marketing classes in drama schools around the country and coaches creative professionals.

 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT –
CLAREMONT HS

Authored by Krista Carson Elhai, Theatre Department Chair

The Claremont High School Theatre department, currently celebrating our 59th year, is an award-winning program with over 500 active members and three instructors. We have performed our productions at the California State Thespian Festival and International Thespian Festival. Our students have won honors at local, state, and national levels, including hundreds of awards at the California State Thespian Festival.

 

 

What was the last production you did before the shutdown?
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 

What is the first production you will do when you are able to put on a live performance again?
None. I am retiring in June and won’t have any more live productions

If you could share one thing with theatre educators about teaching virtually, what would it be?
Temper their expectations about how much can get done and focus on community

If you could share one thing with students learning theatre virtually, what would it be?
This time will be a blip in your life. Consider a journal or photo collage about your time during remote learning and use that information to create future art.

What about your theatre program makes you most proud?
The wide range of students involved in our program-Special Needs Students, AP & IB students, and three season athletes. Also, we are heavily involved in a great deal of community service -from face painting to toy drives to canned food collection. This is a requirement of students in order to become Thespians.

What are you most looking forward to when you able to have all your students back in the classroom?
Hearing happy chatter in the theatre.

How has your program adapted to the quarantine?
We have transferred almost all aspects of our program to virtual including the 7 shows, community service, and attending festivals and competitions.

What are the biggest challenges your program has faced with the quarantine?
How to involve our technicians. We have three sections of technical theatre and hundreds of technicians who are missing all of the construction and hands on aspects of our program.

What makes your theatre program unique?
The size. We have 25% of the student body involved in some aspect of the theatre program.

Any words of wisdom to share with Projects with Jason members?
Never underestimate the impact you are having on students. Some of them won’t realize it for many years, but what they are learning in theatre will give them an excellent foundation for just about anything in their future.

 

GETTING FIT FOR THE NEW YEAR
Authored by Kristen Sutton-Traina MS, DPT, OCS, ATC

As we enter into the New Year, we may be looking for ways to make healthy lifestyle changes. First, we need to ask ourselves what does it mean to be “healthy.” There are a number of factors that contribute to being healthy, and the importance of each factor may differ for each person. Both physical and mental health must be considered when evaluating our overall well-being. Our mental health involves how we cope with stress and how we manage our emotions. Nutrition, exercise and recovery must all be taken into account when considering physical health. The food we consume assists in fueling our bodies to provide nourishment and energy. Movement and exercise throughout the day strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular health.  Finally, recovery, especially sleep, allows our body time to heal and prepare for the next day’s challenges. As a physical therapist and athletic trainer, I specialize in movement and exercise. Although this is only one piece of the big picture, it is important, especially for performing artists. Exercising regularly, and in a healthy manner, helps prevent injuries, enhance performance, increase energy levels and even improve mental health. 

As a performer, movement is an essential part of life. However, exercise is different from movement. It is important for performers, dancers included, to cross train in order to maintain a healthy body. Cross training encourages the use of different muscles, which will promote overall stability and strength. There are four main types of exercise: cardiovascular (aerobic and anerobic), muscular endurance, muscular strength and power. Cardiovascular exercise can be divided into aerobic and anerobic training. Aerobic exercise, which is typically known as “cardio”, is anything that can be sustained for > 20 minutes and requires at least moderate exertion; this may include walking, steady running or biking. Anerobic exercise involves shorter bouts of more vigorous activities, resulting in a higher heart rate for shorter periods of time with longer recovery intervals and includes exercises like sprinting. Muscular endurance is a type of strength training, which includes resistance bands, weights or body weight, but is performed with higher repetitions and shorter rest periods. Muscular strengthening is performed with heavier weights, fewer repetitions and longer rest intervals.  Finally, exercises which train for power involve explosive type movements, such as plyometrics. To maximize the benefits, power driven exercises are performed with fewer repetitions, greater intensity and longer rest intervals. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) publishes guidelines to help inform the public on recommendations for exercise. (see images) Based on the ACSM guidelines, muscular endurance or muscular strengthening exercises should be performed 2-3 days per week and cardiovascular training should be performed 3-5 days per week depending on the intensity of the workout. 

Pilates is a form of exercise that has become very popular among performing artists. Pilates typically combines muscular endurance training with flexibility while integrating the concept of core stability. Depending on the equipment available, individuals may use a jump board to integrate low impact power training as well. Pilates is performed lying down or seated using springs as a form of resistance. Performers enjoy the low impact nature of Pilates, and the focus on proper form in combination with core stability. Pilates is a great form of exercise and can be performed using equipment in studios or at home on a mat. To maximize the benefit of this type of training, it is important to progress slowly through each exercise and do not attempt movements that are too advanced.  

Although Pilates is effective, it is only one type of exercise. Other forms of exercise should be incorporated into weekly workout routines to promotes overall strength and body awareness. Exercise videos and programs may be found in Applications or online, especially on YouTube. Circuit training is one great way to combine muscular endurance and aerobic exercise. A circuit may consist of performing any exercise you choose, for example, choose 4-6 of your favorite exercises (example: 15 squats, 8 push-ups, 8 lunges and 10 mountain climbers); then repeat the same exercises 2-4 times with minimal rest between sets to promote cardiovascular endurance. When focusing on muscular strength simply perform exercises using weights to increase the difficulty and perform fewer repetitions. Make sure to integrate adequate rest in between sets while performing muscular strengthening. Circuit training can also involve plyometric training to promote improvements in power. Circuits can focus on leg, arms, core or a combination of different body regions. Alternate days of focusing on muscular strength, muscular endurance and cardiovascular training for a healthy balance. 

Walk-run programs may be used for cardiovascular training. If running is a new activity make sure to start running using a walk-run program. Start by walking for 5 minutes, running for 30 seconds, then repeat for a total workout time of 20-30 minutes. Try to increase the time spent running as your fitness level improves.      

There are countless options of different exercise programs, especially with the use of the internet. The keys to a good exercise program:

  • MAKE IT FUN. Whether you add music or video chat with a friend, make workouts enjoyable.
  • When performing a new exercise, make sure to perform the exercise correctly. Exercises are only beneficial if performed with proper form.  
  • Start simple and progress to more challenging exercises. 
  • Almost every exercise should be a core exercise. Make an effort to actively engage core muscles.  
  • Stop before complete fatigue and only exercise until “form fatigue”. (Form fatigue is when the body begins to deviate from proper alignment and exercise technique due to muscular fatigue with exercise.)
  • Always use supportive foot wear and proper flooring to prevent injury.  

Remember, exercise is only one component of a healthy lifestyle; nutrition, recovery and mental health must also be considered. As you begin a fresh start in 2021, create long- and short-term goals to set more reasonable expectations and ensure success for a healthy and happy New Year.  

Kristen Sutton-Traina, DPT, MS, OCS, ATC is an Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapist specializing in performing artists medicine since 2006. Her research interest is in the area of dance medicine; specifically, she has been studying the effects on long bone morphology on lower extremity range of motion and function; and recently took part in data collection investigating conservative treatment for FHL tendinopathy.  She completed her Residency and Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California. Kristen completed her Master of Science in Kinesiology and Athletic Training at Michigan State University. She began her academic career at the University of Florida where she completed a Bachelor of Science in Human Health and Performance and Athletic Training.  Kristen worked with professional dancers in Orange County and Los Angeles assisting with preventing injuries through screening, therapeutic exercises and manual therapy.

 

MAINTAINING A HEALTHY VOICE FOR ACTORS
Authored by Tamiko Washington, Professor of Voice and Movement,
Chapman University

The desire to be seen in front of an audience is generally characterized by an insatiable need to be recognized as a performer, an artist, an actor, and as a person who is seeking the essence of a sacred space that can only be achieved through an actor-audience relationship.  This relationship is sought by many aspiring actors who desire their talents to be enhanced and shaped through training offered in a K-12 setting, a university/college four-year experience, or in private coaching sessions from theatre and film industry professionals.  This training tends to focus primarily on acting techniques that center around objectives, beats, tactics, focus, concentration, listening, truth, believability, working on one’s self, and character development.   The one aspect of training that is often overlooked or misunderstood is the importance of vocal training for actors.

Vocal training is the key that unlocks effective communication when an actor is given the privilege of speaking the lines of a playwright on stage in character.  Effective communication is simply the ability of an actor to transform a memorized piece of text into clear thoughts, ideas, and images that are communicated in moments involving fluid exchange of emotion and reaction-action responses.  The “voice” is the only direct communicative mechanism in the body to achieve this goal.  The question to ask is, “How is it achieved?”  The answer is acquiring knowledge of the anatomical structures of the vocal mechanism, understanding its physiology (function), learning and practicing vocal exercises and techniques that allow actors to demonstrate a free natural voice, having a conscientious acting instructor make physical adjustments (tongue, lower jaw, throat muscles, shoulders, upper torso) to eliminate vocal tract tensions when actors are incorrectly executing exercises and techniques, and applying vocal exercises and techniques to the communication of heightened language/text (Shakespeare, Greek, Poetry).  It is also imperative that a competent acting instructor approach vocal training with a sincere commitment to helping actors acknowledge the importance of practicing vocal exercises and techniques with ease, simplicity, patience, and specificity, as well as ensuring actors create a vocal warm-up to maintain a healthy vocal mechanism. 

When creating a vocal warm-up, actors can incorporate breath awareness (allowing breath to naturally “fall-in” and “fall-out” of the body), spinal roll-downs and roll-ups (easy spinal alignment), physical jiggles (relaxation), simple jaw release exercises, and the Lee Strasberg Chair Exercise (relaxation) as a basic vocal warm-up regimen.  Consider that a good performance is only as good as an actors’ preparation, and a crucial component to that preparation is implementing vocal training that is consistent with the practice of maintaining a proper vocal warm-up.

TAMIKO WASHINGTON
Associate Professor – Voice and Movement, Chapman University

Professor Tamiko Washington holds an M.F.A. in Acting from the University of California, Irvine.  Her seventeen-year history as an accomplished actor, voice, and movement teacher lead her to originate American Noh Theatre based on the traditional movements of Japanese Noh Theatre and Suzuki Master Tadashi Suzuki.  Her proven effective vocal methodology can be accredited to her extensive study with Linklater and Fitzmaurice specialists such as Dudley Knight, Catherine Fitzmaurice, Isabel Kirk, Dennis Krausnick, Tina Packer, Christine Adaire, Keely Eastley, Margaret Jansen, Lisa Wolpe, Adrienne Johns, and Louis Colaianni.  She continues to perform her (twelve-year) highly acclaimed one-woman show (Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, OC Weekly, Logan Daily News, Kansas City NewsIncidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs (adapted for the stage by Deanna Sidoli and Kent Kirkpatrick) with help from the Irvine Foundation and Pacific Bell Telesis Foundation.  Her performance of the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet with Shakespeare Orange County in 2007 won critical acclaim in the Los Angeles Times.  She also has appeared in notable Actors’ Equity Association performances at South Coast Repertory, the Old Globe Theatre, the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Orange County, Stages Theatre, the Vanguard Theatre, and Pacific Theatre Ensemble, among others.  Her television credits include co-starring and guest artist roles in the television shows Pensacola, Silk Stalkings, High Tide, Extreme Blue, and Vanishing Son, and two Lifetime Movie Network films, Two Small Voices and Kidnapped.  

IN THE GREENROOM WITH…

 

ERIC SATTERBERG

Eric Satterberg has appeared on over a dozen TV shows including HBO’s Silicon Valley, Showtimes’ Shameless, and NBC’s This is US to highlight a few. Eric is also one of the busiest commercial actors in L. A., having booked a dozen commercials a year since 2013 for a variety of major brands including McDonald’s, Turbo Tax, AT&T, and has a number already booked this year. You can see him next on Hulu’s Orville, Paramounts Yellowstone, and Warner Bros. Feature The Little Things opposite Rami Malek and Denzel Washington. 

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Working on the Halo Top ice cream commercial campaign. I remain very proud of how they came out. 

What’s the most inspiring thing anyone has ever said to you?
“Do it again but ‘good’ this time.” – Every Director I’ve worked with. 

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the theatre arts?
Very young. I remember when I saw Cirque du Soleil as a kid. The costumes, the dancing, and the music completely seduced me. Even though I would never pursue that style of performance,  I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of right away.

What’s the phone app you use most?
YouTube 

What’s your favorite self-care activity?
American Dad. 

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
American Dad with over priced ice cream. Peanut butter is involved. 

What is one thing that can instantly brighten your day?
A booking. 

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Chocolate peanut butter crack from Gingers. 

Current obsession?
Disinfectant. 

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Loud noises. Loud noises from Motor cycles.

What is your dream role/job?
Working w Paul Thomas Anderson.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
TGIF. 

What career advice would you give your younger self?
My life got infinitely better when I became sober in 2015. 

When will you know you’ve “made it”?
At the end.

Tell us one thing that’s on your bucket list.
Getting a golden retriever. 

What makes you feel at peace?
Listening to the “Crono Trigger” soundtrack as I drift asleep.  

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Cough in public.

If you were a super hero, what would your power be?
Telepathy 

You’re looking for a midnight snack… what are you reaching for? Or ordering?
Pizza.

THE HEALTHY CREW
Authored by Vanessa Martinez, Projects with Jason Marketing Manager

We couldn’t let this healthy new year edition of our newsletter go by without offering some tips and tricks to some of the hardest working people in any theatre – the crew! Often some of the first to arrive at the theatre and the last to leave, these are the people who do whatever it takes to make a performance spectacular from behind the scenes.

However, this “whatever it takes” mentality can take its toll. Late nights, long days, hurried work, last minute catastrophes, the list goes on and on. These are just some of the many reasons why it’s so important for the people working behind the scenes in the theatre to put as much focus on their health as the ones standing in the footlights. 

When bodies are young and healthy, we often feel invincible, like we can accomplish anything, anytime. And that may be true… But creating healthy habits early on will help to ensure longevity in your career and a healthy body for the rest of your life.

As an Entertainment Safety Manager, I had the opportunity to create health and wellness programs for all Entertainment departments, and had visibility to any injuries that occurred. Based on that experience, this is a short list of things all crew can/should do to prevent injury:

  1. Condition! Using the cross training that’s recommended in the article above is just as important for the crew as it is for any performer.
  2. Hydrate!  Water is so vital to a healthy body. And remember that caffeine is a diuretic and can quickly dehydrate you. While I would never advise against giving up caffeine altogether (imagine the revolt!), but it is possible to overdue it. We once had a paramedic run for stage manager having heart palpitations from too much caffeine. Drink one glass of water for every caffeinated beverage you consume. And not every donut that gets brought into the theatre needs to be eaten. #justsaying
  3. Use good body mechanics! The way you move can go a long way to protect yourself!
  • Keep your elbows close. The closer your elbows are to your mid-section, the more strength you have. 
  • Point your toes in the direction of movement. This will help to avoid twisting your low back, which greatly decreases your risk of back injury. 
  • Keep your wrists in a neutral position. Even when working with tools and in awkward spaces, make every effort to keep your wrists from flexing or extending as much as possible. 
  1. Have a plan! Pre-work planning can do wonders for injury prevention. Knowing what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it is the first step to making sure you have the necessary time and resources to complete the work safely.
  2. Use the right tool for the task. I once found a member of my crew trying to remove a splinter with a Gerber multi-tool… When there was a splinter removal kit in our first aid kit! Take the time to ensure you have the right equipment for the work you’re doing. Shortcuts frequently cost more than they save.
  3. Take regular breaks! Repetitive motion is one of the leading causes of injury. It can be easy to get caught up in the work, but your body needs a break from any prolonged task. Varying your task (with something that moves your body in a different way) for at least 10 minutes every hour is a good rule of thumb.
  4. Don’t work through pain! No matter how crucial or time sensitive a task may seem, it’s not worth jeopardizing your safety! 

Always remember, your health and safety should be your number one priority. After all, you don’t want the show to go on without you!

 

VANESSA MARTINEZ
Projects with Jason Marketing Manager

Vanessa Martinez is a Senior Stage Manager at the Disneyland Resort. She previously worked as an Entertainment Safety Manager and also does safety consulting. She is thrilled to be supporting Projects with Jason in her role as Marketing Manager, and looks forward to continued collaboration with current and prospective PwJ members!

 



 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to Projects with Jason Member Donors:
PATRONS
Julia Cuppy
Gloria McIntyre
CONTRIBUTORS
Jaime Brown
Lauren Carroll and Chris Herman
Nick Robinson
El Dorado High School, Placentia, CA, Educator Kathleen Switzer
PRODUCERS
Donny Bryan
Debby Gibbs
Beverly Hills High, School, Beverly Hills, CA Educator Karen Chandler
Carson High School, Carson, CA, Educator Marcia Barryte
Galt High School, Galt, CA Educator Sonja Brown
Lehigh Valley Academy Regional Charter School, Bethlehem, PA, Educator Amanda Pascale
SUSTAINERS
Kyle D. & Kimberly Cole
Matt Conover 
J. Jason Daunter
Philip & Krista Elhai
Jack Lane & Michael Hamilton
Jim & Merry Mosbacher
Alma Middle School, Alma, AR Educator Marti Jo Salisbury
Ashland High School, Ashland, OR, Educator Betsy Bishop
Bloomfield Hills High School, Bloomfield, MI, Educator Mary Bogrette
Buford High School, Buford, GA, Educator Kimberly Staples
Charter Oak High School, Covina, CA Educator Nicole Pedroche
Claremont High School, Claremont, CA, Educator Krista Carson Elhai
Dublin Scioto High School, Dublin, OH, Educator Pat Santanello
Sam Barlow High School, Gresham, OR Educator Jeff Schroeder
Jesuit High School, Portland, OR Educator Jeff Hall
Liberty High School, Henderson, NV, Educator Sharon Chadwick
Lincoln High School, Portland, OR Educator Jim Peerenboom
Munster High School, Munster IN, Educator Ray Palasz
North Kansas City High School, Kansas City, MO Educator Randy Jackson 
Olympia High School, Millersville, PA Educator Melissa Mintzer
Royal Oak Middle School, Covina, CA Educator Nicole Pedroche
San Juan Hills High School, San Juan Capistrano, CA Educator Cambria Graff
Stages St. Louis Performing Arts Academy, St. Louis, MO, Director of Education & Outreach Dominic Dowdy-Windsor

 

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